For three hours the darkness covered the earth and in that time, Jesus experienced the essence of Hell: His Father’s back was turned on Jesus and there was a sense of abandonment the Son had never before experienced! It is no wonder He cried out to His Father:
1My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my groaning? Psalm 22:1
Agony. If there ever were a cry from the depth of a soul, it was this cry from Jesus! In sheer agony of heart and body, Christ experienced the spiritual pain of God being ripped from God in these hours on the cross. The beatings, the loss of blood, the crown of thorns, the nail pierced hands or feet, the spear in his side or any combination thereof in not what killed Jesus. He stated earlier that He would willingly lay down His life. However, if there were ever anything that would make Him want to die, it was this separation from His Father! From eternity past until that moment, they shared a relationship and fellowship that was unique and perfect. At this time though things changed; Jesus had become sin. There He hang in pain unyielding, as His soul was severed from God’s Spirit.
I am poured out like water, And all my bones are out of joint: My heart is like wax; It is melted within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; And my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; And thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: A company of evil-doers have inclosed me; They pierced my hands and my feet.I may count all my bones; They look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, And upon my vesture do they cast lots. Psalm 22: 14-18
Abandonment. Never before had the Son and Father been separated like this. Even though Jesus had come to earth in a physical form, they still had fellowship…until now. In this moment, Jesus experienced the wrath of His Father for the sins of the world. In this darkness, the depravity of man was laid on Christ. “He who knew no sin was made to be sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor 5:21) and God the Father turned His back on His Son. Jesus was abandoned by His friends, family and now His God. What is amazing about this is that Jesus promises to never leave or forsake us Matthew 28:20! He knows like no one ever will what it’s like to be abandoned and left completely and totally alone. He makes the promise that we shall never experience that…ever!
Atonement. For us to have the grace of God poured out on us, the wrath of God had to be poured out on His Son. Jesus fully and willingly took our place in being abandoned by God to become the atonement for our sin. “And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” (Romans 5:11). As He cried out ” My God! My God!” the cry was literally humanity’s plea for God. The acknowledgement of God turning away from sin is important because we must understand that God cannot look upon sin. He despises our sin. But because Jesus was forsaken, we can be forgiven! Of everything!
George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as student pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA